That Kind of Mother

by Rumaan Alam

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 399

That Kind of Mother was written by American author Rumaan Alam and was published in 2018.

Following the birth of her son Jacob, first-time mother and poet Rebecca Stone struggles with the challenges of motherhood. She is offered kindness and guidance from Priscilla Johnson, a black woman who works at the hospital where she gave birth. Rebecca and her husband, Christopher, ask Priscilla to leave the hospital and become their son’s full-time nanny. Rebecca and Priscilla love each other dearly and forge a strong friendship. With the support of Priscilla, Rebecca is able to continue with her writing.

Priscilla becomes pregnant but does not reveal who the child’s father is. When she dies in childbirth, Rebecca and Christopher adopt her son, Andrew. Priscilla’s daughter, Cheryl, and Cheryl's husband, Ian, now have a child of their own—a daughter named Ivy—and are happy for Rebecca and Christopher to raise Andrew. The two families regularly meet and the children play together.

When the two families get together to celebrate Christmas, there is a discussion about Andrew’s heritage and the relationship between the two families. Though they feel as though they are now one family, when Ivy falls ill at daycare, Rebecca is prevented from taking her home until Cheryl confirms that Rebecca is who she says she is.

The marriage between Rebecca and Christopher starts to fall apart, and they plan to divorce. When Rebecca discusses their problems with Cheryl, she also admits that she and Ian are going through some marital difficulties. Following their divorce, Rebecca and Christopher still take Jacob and Andrew on a vacation to New York.

As the families are joined together once more for a dinner, Cheryl tells Rebecca how Ian suffered prejudice and mistreatment at the hands of the police. She wants to tell Andrew the story so that he can prepare for the same kind of prejudice from the authorities himself. When Rebecca defends the police, Cheryl argues that Rebecca doesn’t understand the reality of life as a black person.

Rebecca writes two poems following the death of Princess Diana and is nominated for a National Book Award. The family then get together to celebrate when Rebecca wins the Ruth Jameson Award. Rebecca travels to accept the award and, in her speech, talks about her hope for a world of equality for her black son and her white son.

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